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Peter Paul Rubens' figures were famous for being full bodied and curvaceous, representing his idea of what was the perfect female form and The Feast of Venus displayed this consistently throughout this complex series of women who spread right across this huge canvas.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria possesses this famous artwork and it remains amongst the highlights of this institution's entire collection. Frankly, to have a large scale Rubens painting within your collection will lift the entire museum from the status of a domestic venue to an international gallery of note. The artist is believed to have completed this painting around 1636-1637 when he would have been approaching his 60th birthday and his true peak as an artist.
Rubens' decision to take on this theme of the Roman Festival Veneralia was inspired by an earlier work from Titian, one of the artists that he most admired and studied during his time in Italy. Intially he made a direct copy of the Italian's The Worship of Venus and it was a proud possession within his private collection, one of few artworks never considered for sale. Rubens frequently sold or swapped his own work in order to expand and diversify his own collection, but some artworks were simply too valuable for him to consider parting with them.
The Fourth book, April, from Ovid's Fasti, includes a section of poetry that was to inspire this Rubens painting. A women's festival would be held on the first day of this month each year in order to celebrate Venus Verticordia and Fortuna Virilis. Elements within this book had earlier been used by Titian, perhaps encouraging the Flemish artist to spend time reading this literature himself. The key features of the painting are huge amounts of merriment, with dancing figures filling each and every corner of the scene.
Alongside this fine painting those visiting the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna may also come across the likes of Jan van Eyck, Titian, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Albrecht Durer and Caravaggio. Besides this supreme collection of art from the Northern and Italian Renaissance, you will also find antiquities from a variety of ancient civilisations.